• Surprising ways to reduce muscle pain

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    When the weather is good, many people feel more and more drawn to playing games, walking, biking and exercising outdoors. Those can all be healthy ways to have a good time but if done only occasionally, one could end up feeling stiff and sore the next day. Fortunately, fun can be enjoyed without paying the penalty if these seven suggestions from experts are heeded.

    Create a routine. Orthopedic hip surgeon and sports medicine expert Derek Ochiai said, “The key is to build at least mild fitness routines into a regimen at least two to three times a week to maintain general fitness so that you can do the fun stuff on the weekends.”

    Muscle pain and stiffness greatly affect daily activities FLICKR PHOTO

    Start slow. “A weekend warrior can maintain a healthy balance in his or her fitness routine by including two to three minutes of yoga breathing and movement techniques that prepare the body for more activity,” added yoga therapist Veronica Zador.

    Mix it up. “Instead of spending 150 minutes doing one activity like running, consider a combination of activities such as run-swim-run on Saturday followed by a bike ride or volleyball game on Sunday,” orthopedic surgeon Bradley Thomas suggested. “This will help spread the stress of workout over multiple body parts rather than overburdening one area.”

    Keep stretching. “Sore muscles are a product of hard work,” explained personal trainer Bob Talamini. “To reduce muscle soreness, I recommend engaging in a combination of light- to low-intensity movement with a good mobility stretch routine.”

    Stay hydrated: According to fitness expert Jay Jordan, “Your level of hydration is critical to minimize pain as well as optimize performance, so extra electrolytes taken for 48 hours prior aids in minimizing aches and soreness.”

    Get hot. Heat therapy increases the flow of oxygen to the affected area that’s in pain. “When I have an arthritic day, just using heat—keeping the joint warm—has really been helpful,” said Pam Shriver, the award-winning tennis pro and ESPN tennis broadcaster.

    Go topical. Author and acclaimed Beverly Hills physician Aristotle Economou suggested, “Acetaminophen has a narrow therapeutic window, meaning the difference between a safe and effective dose and an overdose, which could lead to liver toxicity, is a relatively small increment in milligram consumption.”

    “One great aid in relieving pain is gel-patch like Salonpas which provides the maximum strength of lidocaine available without a prescription,” said Bob Arnot, who served as chief medical correspondent for NBC and CBS News.

    “It desensitizes aggravated nerves and provides unscented numbing relief for up to eight hours. A welcome alternative for people who prefer to avoid taking pills, the active ingredients in the patch are absorbed through the skin so they go directly to the pain site for fast, long-lasting relief that won’t upset digestion. Simply smooth the patch over the area targeted for relief and it’ll stick there, soothing pain away.”

    NORTH AMERICAN PRECIS SYNDICATE

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